June 6, 2014

Darren Kennedy

2014-06-06

 

There was no hockey on last night. Which in most cases would stink. But seeing as I've developed a new found addiction to "Friday Night Lights" it wasn't so bad. Yes, the show ended in 2011, but I just came across it on Netflix a couple weeks ago. Since then it's been one ongoing marathon, intermittently separated by sleep, eating, and ya know, work.  

 

I can't remember the last time I actually watched a show during its scheduled, weekly timeslot. These days (and I know I'm not alone here) I just wait until the season, or in some cases entire series, is complete and then watch it all at once. Sports really is the final frontier of "appointment" viewing. I'll change my schedule to catch game two of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Whereas I don't really care if I miss episode three of Mad Men or whatever.

 

 

Advertisers are catching on to this and between the Dodgers local television deal, Rogers partnering with the NHL, and the Clippers being sold for north of two billion, it appears that heady days are on the horizon for major sports leagues. My guess is that the NHL cap ceiling, plotted over the next five years on a graph, is going to look a lot like a hockey stick.

 

On to today's ramblings…

 

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Drew Doughty is trolling us this year. He's like that guy in the forums who starts a thread entitled "Crosby Kind of Sucks" just to watch the ensuing mayhem. He's a bad man. First it was four goals and six points in only six games for Canada at the Sochi Olympics. Now he has gone off and posted 17 points through 22 playoff games. The kind of numbers that elite fantasy defencemen put together.

 

But he's not elite (at least not in your pool).

 

After that incredible 2009-10 season in which he had 59 points as a 20 year old we proclaimed him the most valuable blueliner in all the land. Since then it has been heartbreak season after heartbreak season (unless of course you're from Los Angeles). I can't — I won't, do it all over again. Until Sutter is no longer coaching there is little evidence to believe Doughty can sustain production equal to that of a top five guy. Regardless of how these playoffs turn out I'll have him sitting firmly behind the likes of Karlsson, Subban, Byfuglien, Letang, Yandle, and Weber in my draft rankings.   

 

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Lately I've been spending WAY too much time on ExtraSkater.com. It's like Toys R Us for adults. Although I still rather like Toys R Us too. One area that's been great, even though it isn't that advanced per se, is their separation of primary and secondary assists. We know by looking at some terrific research by Eric Tulsky that secondary assists aren't overly predictable from year-to-year. If a guy posts 30 one season he's just as likely to end with 10 the next.

 

Knowing this we can be on the lookout for seasons that may have been artificially inflated. Poking around the numbers I was blown away by Niklas Kronwall. This year was, by most accounts, a stellar season. He had 49 points, 10th among defencemen, and a massive uptick on his last full 82 game total of 36 back in 2011-12.

 

When we delve further into the numbers it gets a bit murky. Of his 49 points 41 were assists, with 28 being registered as secondary markers. Conversely, in 2011-12, he only had 16 secondary assists. That's a significant discrepancy. I'm sure there were other factors at play – different partner, increased offensive deployment…etc. We'd have to take a deeper look to fully understand what is at play. However, on the surface, I'm beginning to question exactly how strong of a season it was. If his secondary assists regress we could be looking at a 40 point defencemen. That's not horrible, not by any stretch, but it will be a painful experience if you select him in the early rounds.

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